Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
Conversations are a gift of time.
That thought struck me following a conversation with Seahawks GM John Schneider who was raving about a meeting that lasted 2 ½ hours. The information gathered in that meeting was important and useful but he kept coming back to the gift of time - “Can you believe he took 2 ½ hours out of his day to talk to me?”
Your conversations don’t need to last 2 ½ hours. And small talk doesn’t have to be a waste of time. It can be a gift of time.
You can use these sports topics to get the ball rolling in those conversations.
I was wrong. I didn't expect that outcome.
That's a fairly normal thing to say in a sports conversation. In fact, that conversation is fairly easy and straightforward based on the final score and the stats.
Admitting you're wrong in a business conversation can be more difficult or uncomfortable. Practicing that kind of vulnerability helps. Sports small talk is a form of practice. It's just one of the ways small talk can be useful in bigger business conversations.
Speaking of, here's a list of sports topics making news this week.
You don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate one of the most impressive stats from the weekend games. 546 pushups. That was the total number completed by the Oregon Ducks mascot as a result of the Ducks 81-7 win over Portland State. (In case you’re not familiar with this particular tradition, the mascot does pushups following each Oregon score.)
It’s a sports adjacent topic that can definitely spark some conversation this week – and maybe cause you to rethink your workout strategy.
If you’d prefer more traditional sports talk choose one of the talking points from the list below.
A lot of sports talk focuses on the “Big 4” of football, baseball, basketball and hockey because they tend to be the most popular, most talked about and watched sports throughout the year.
But you can be a fan of whatever sport you want.
I always chuckle at the folks who tell me they’re not sports fans but then say they love playing tennis and watching soccer. Don’t overlook or downplay your sports interests. Bring them up in conversation. And if soccer and tennis happen to be on your radar – there are a couple topics in this list of conversation starters you can use this week.
Here’s a small challenge for you this week… substitute one of your go-to words or phrases for something new.
It’s an easy thing to practice in sports talk. Instead of a great win, maybe it’s a terrific win or a critical win. Instead of saying a home run was hit, maybe it was launched, torqued or crushed.
Here’s why this challenge is useful:
Both of those skills are important in business and both can be practiced in sports talk. Here’s a list of topics you can use in practicing this week.
The more clarity you can provide in a conversation the easier the interaction becomes. Clarity can also help make a conversation more meaningful, especially when it comes to small talk.
Those are the conversations we often try to shortcut. We’re lazy in the questions we ask (Think: How are you?) We hope the person we’re talking with says something interesting or we’re avoiding the exchange altogether.
Despite what you might have been taught, open-ended questions create overwhelm and confusion. (Again, think: How are you?) If you want a better answer try something like:
Those questions have a specific answer. There’s no guesswork involved for the person answering. As a result, you’ll get a better answer, the conversation will be easier and more meaningful.
Give it a try with these sports conversation topics this...
Sports talk doesn’t have to be about sports. Sometimes sports is just the entry point to a topic that’s more entertaining or relevant to you. In other words, you don’t have to take sports so literally.
There’s a great example this week right at the top of the list with the Hall of Fame. Maybe Cooperstown and the baseball Hall of Fame is of interest to you, if it’s not use that note as a jumping off point for something more fun that everyone can talk about perhaps a made-up Hall of Fame you would qualify for. Maybe something like Cheese Eating Hall of Fame or the Dog Walking Hall of Fame.
Is it silly? Sure. Can everyone contribute to that kind of conversation? Yes. That’s the point of sports talk and small talk, being able to converse and find ways to connect.
And with that, here’s the full list of sports conversation starters for your week.
“Do you know who won?”
I had already seen the alert cross my phone. I knew Rory McIlroy won the Scottish Open. My husband had not so he happily spent a few hours watching the tape-delayed tournament broadcast.
I didn’t ruin it or spoil the outcome because a.) that would have been rude and b.) because I knew it wouldn’t take long for him to see the end of the tournament.
And that’s one of the reasons sports is a great conversation starter. Sports fans don’t wait weeks or days for an outcome. They don’t binge an entire season at one time. There’s no such thing as a spoiler alert after you pass the 12-hour threshold. The viewing habits of sports fans work to your advantage in small talk.
Here are a few topics you can use to spark those conversations this week.
I had a chance to visit family over the weekend including my sports-loving niece and nephew. Both play sports and watch sports, but for very different reasons.
“Layla is there for the win. Teddy is there for the snacks and socializing.” That’s how my sister-in-law describes their approach to sports it and it totally matches their personalities.
You know what else? A lot of sports fans take different approaches to fandom. It all comes down to personal preference and personalities. That means your conversations about sports can range from talking about the outcome, to the city a game is being played in, and the best food to eat when you’re at a game. Don’t limit yourself but do start with these sports conversation starters this week.
Yes, I really did include competitive eating in this week’s list of sports conversation starters. It’s part of Fourth of July activities and traditions. So is bocce, horseshoes, croquet and lawn darts (or Jarts if you’re of a certain age.) All of it is sports to some degree.
Here’s how I define sports – a physical activity done with a level of competition. For me that could include everything from emptying the dishwasher (yes, I really do race the clock) to running sprint intervals during my workout.
This is a reminder to take a broader view of sports on a holiday weekend when there are plenty of options for participating, watching and talking about sports. If you’d rather not talk about losing the family cornhole tournament to your brother for a second straight year, here are a few topics you can use when joining small talk this week.